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Z Evid Fortbild Qual Gesundhwes ; 165: 35-42, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1392650

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In Germany, family physicians care for about 85% of the patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. The geographic distribution of the first wave in 2020 was heterogeneous, and each federal state experienced different percentages of patients that died from COVID-19. Each of the 16 federal states implemented its own regulation about medical care for SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. Against this background, the objective of this analysis was to gather experiences made by primary care physicians managing SARS-CoV-2 infected patients during the first wave in March 2020 and to clinically characterize these patients. METHODS: In total, 5,632 physicians were invited to participate in an online questionnaire surveying routine data regarding the general care situation at the physician practice level and the care for patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were applied to characterize treatment experiences and to identify patient characteristics predicting the course of disease. RESULTS: 132 family physicians from all German federal states (except from Berlin) participated in this analysis (response rate 2.3%) and provided routine care data for 1,085 patients. Information from 373 of these patients were provided in greater detail. On average, each physician treated 8.5 patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. About 15% of the physicians used video consultations to communicate with their infected patients. More than 82% made positive experiences with the exceptional regulation to provide a certificate of incapacity to work by telephone. Half of the physicians faced equipment insufficiencies due to a lack of protective gear, and in 10% of the practices, the staff themselves acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection. Greater numbers of SARS-CoV-2 cases treated in a practice translated into higher odds for members of the practice to get infected (odds ratio (OR) 1.03, 95% CI [1.01;1.06]). Older persons, males and patients in rural areas had higher odds of a severe course of disease. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that a large percentage of primary care physicians additionally managed their COVID-19 patients remotely by telephone or video during the outbreak, while also being at a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Further, the increased severity in rural areas underlines the importance of strong primary health care in order to enable hospitals to concentrate on critically ill patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Cross-Sectional Studies , Germany , Humans , Male , Physicians, Family
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